LA archdiocese seeks new abuse-trial venue

March 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM

LOS ANGELES, March 16 (UPI) -- The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has asked to have pending sexual abuse civil trials moved to a venue outside Southern California, court records show.

Church attorneys said they do not believe the church can get a fair trial in Southern California, and asked a Los Angeles judge either to delay the trials or move them at least 200 miles away.

"We think that the environment in Los Angeles today is currently hostile," archdiocesan lawyer J. Michael Hennigan said in the request.

Hennigan's motion came in the same week the archdiocese agreed to pay $4 million each to two brothers who sued over molestation by a Catholic priest, the Los Angeles Times said. The award was far higher than previous settlements in the archdiocese had paid out.

The Times said church files released in January showed officials had kept sexual abuse allegations from police. The result has been an increased level of vitriol among the public in Los Angeles County, a church jury consultant said.

Hennigan's motion specifically involved four suits involving a single priest. He proposed moving the cases north to San Luis Obispo or delaying trial six months for a "cooling off" period.

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